5 potential salary cap casualties for the 2024 Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are headed toward the 2024 NFL league year in March, and as the Steelers roster currently stands, they are projected to be over this year’s salary cap. The exact amount the Steelers are over is arbitrary as the exact 2024 salary cap or the Steelers carryover from this past season have yet to be determined. But the Steelers are not currently ready to be cap compliant but don’t have to worry about the issue for quite some time.
When it comes to creating cap space, there are three main tools used in order to move around the money. The Steelers could simply release a player and take the dead money hit while saving the players base salary for the season. Another option is the Steelers could restructure the contract of players who have more than one season remaining on their deal. Finally, for those players who only have one year left who the Steelers would like to retain, they could work out a contract extension which would drop their 2024 salary cap number.
When looking at the Steelers current 2024 players under contract, there are potential cap savings in all of these categories. Looking at them one by one, first up are players who would be released as cap casualties. The decision to release these players generally comes down to salary cap hit, performance on the field, forecasted usage for the upcoming season, and, in most cases, a combination of these items.
Here are the top five players who are most likely to be a salary cap casualty for the 2024 season. These players are not listed in the order of their likelihood but by how much their salary cap number is for 2024. Additionally, it is possible players could end up in multiple groups as we work through the extensions and restructures.
Allen Robinson, WR
Cap Savings: $10,000,000
Dead money: $1,917,500
This is the most obvious contract the Steelers simply can’t carry into 2024. The way it stands right now, Allen Robinson and Diontae Johnson have the same base salary of $10 million for the upcoming season. While some Steelers fans believe Johnson isn’t worth the money, there’s no way they could justify Robinson. This year’s cap number was simply a move to shift money around within the deal in order for the Steelers to be able to pull off the trade to acquire Robinson last offseason. While the Steelers could do an extension, the amount of the base salary is so much I don’t know if it would be a wise financial move the offer that as a signing bonus. For Robinson to return to the Steelers next season, the most likely path would be his outright release and the two teams potentially agreeing on a contract at a later time.
Chukwuma Okorafor, OT
Cap Savings: $8,750,000
Dead money: $3,083,334
The Steelers simply can’t spend almost $9 million for an offensive tackle who they are looking to push further down the depth chart because of improved play at the position. It made sense for the Steelers to sign Okorafor when they did (although some would disagree) as he was the best option available at that time. This is no longer the case. The cap savings, as well as Okorafor’s attitude towards the Steelers this season, make this for a fairly obvious uncoupling.
Cap Savings: $6,850,000
Dead money: $2,925,000
Peterson falls in this category because it’s not beyond the realm of possibilities for him to be released. But this one is not nearly as cut and dry. Peterson will likely also be listed under the extension category in the coming days, but not necessarily because the Steelers wish to have him even longer. To me, much like with Ben Roethlisberger and another long-standing Steeler currently on the roster, there could be more years added to a contract where both sides know they will never play it out. While those are still options to keep Peterson around, the idea of his tenure with the Steelers only being one season is not unreasonable for the team to save close to $7 million.
Cap Savings: $2,943,332
Dead money: $4,613,334
This one gets a little bit tricky. The only player on this list with more than one year left on his contract, Mitch Trubisky not being around anymore is as much about his role with the team as it is his salary. The Steelers would still be on the hook for accounting for more than $4.6 million towards the salary cap that has already been paid to Trubisky, which is quite large compared to the $2.9 million they would get in cap savings. But keeping Trubisky around as a player who did not see the field in a victory in 2023 defeats the whole purpose of him being on the roster. The one option the Steelers could have with Trubisky is to release him as a post June 1 designation to spread the dead money into two seasons and would ultimately save $5.25 million this year. The problem with this scenario is the Steelers would have to carry Trubisky‘s more than $7.5 million cap number until June 2 where then they would see the $5.25 million in cap relief.
Cap Savings: $4,750,000
Dead money: $1,521,668
It’s not that Mason Cole is overly expensive, but he simply isn’t getting the job done well enough for the long-term future of the Steelers. The Steelers could keep Cole for his final year of his contract, but the almost $5 million in savings looks a lot more appealing now and the money could be used to sign a higher quality center in free agency if that’s the route the Steelers choose to go.
So here are my most likely candidates to be a salary cap casualty before the 2024 season. Make sure you check back to Steel Curtain Network for the players who could save the most in the restructure and contract extension categories.
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